Sign owners in the South Okanagan will be under scrutiny as the RDOS attempts to begin cleaning up the mess on the region's roadsides.

Governments declare war on roadside signs in South Okanagan

Regional district partnering with B.C. Transportation Ministry to clear up proliferation of signs along Highway 97

Unauthorized signs that have sprung up along Highway 97 in the South Okanagan are now in the crosshairs of government officials, who will adopt a “scorched-earth” approach to cleaning up the mess early next year.

Staff from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen have teamed with counterparts from the B.C. Transportation Ministry for a pilot project that will clear a 10-kilometre stretch of the highway corridor between Road 1 and Road 21 south of Oliver where a recent count tallied 140 signs.

“It’s a driver distraction,” said Jeff Wiseman, a regional manager for the ministry, who last week shared details of the project with the RDOS board, which requested action last year.

He said signs on that particular stretch of roadway “have proliferated to the extent now that just the sheer number of signs has become a safety issue.”

Besides limiting visibility, Wiseman explained, the unauthorized signs also distract from official notices that indicate speed limits or upcoming hazards.

While some signs are sanctioned, such as the small, blue-and-white metal placards that advertise a business, the majority are not, he continued, since “we permit very little, if nothing,” while those on private property are subject to a narrow set of RDOS bylaws that most don’t follow.

Wiseman said the pilot project will begin in January, when property owners in the targeted area will receive letters asking them to remove their illicit signs. After a month, those who don’t comply will be given another 30 days, after which signs that remain in place will be removed by the ministry’s highway maintenance contractor.

He noted the contractor is obligated to do so at no extra charge under its existing deal, and that working in concert with the RDOS will help prevent people from simply moving non-conforming signs off of highway right-of-ways and onto private property.

Wiseman was asked to explain why the ministry allowed the population of signs to explode in the first place, which he attributed to a lack of resources and the absence of consistent divisions between private and public property.

Plus, “In the past, we’ve been a little bit sometimes reluctant to go after these signs with great gusto because if you go after one, generally you have to go after them all. You can’t single one out,” he explained.

Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino expressed concern that the pilot project hadn’t been communicated very well to the general public, members of which could currently be investing in new signage that will later be torn down.

“I just think the communication system needs to be improved on this one to let the public know what’s happening,” said Perrino, also an RDOS director.

Tom Styffe, the alternate director for Okanagan Falls-Kaleden, said the RDOS needs to do more homework in areas where tearing down iconic signs, like those belonging to Tickleberry’s or the Bear’s Fruit Stand near Keremeos, might generate public backlash.

“There will be some controversy,” Styffe said.

RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell warned, however, that the aim of the project is to get rid of every sign that doesn’t follow the letter of the law.

“Unless it’s legally there, I don’t think we’re going to be looking at grandfathering” existing signs, Newell said. “This is scorched-earth.”

 

Just Posted

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: rain, clouds, thunderstorms and flash floods

Environment Canada forecasts dreadful weather for Thursday

Penticton pastry chef wins top honours at Vancouver’s Chocolate Challenge

Jalayne Jones creation, ‘Beer & Pretzels’, won

Community groups want Penticton land redesignated as park

1400 Riddle Road is currently leased the Penticton and Area Cycling Association

Sentencing for South Okanagan man who sent Christmas card to shooting victim

A South Okanagan dangerous offender tacked on another nine months of prison time

Video: Bizarre incident in Penticton alley leads to arrest of Calgary man

A man was witnessed jumping on a car ‘acting like an ape’

Nominate your favourite businesses for the Best of the South Okanagan

Join the Penticton Western News as they celebrate the Best of the South Okanagan awards

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Young Vernon melanoma survivor speaks out about sun danger

World Melanoma Day is recognized every May to highlight the growing prevalence of malignant melanoma.

Kelowna fundraiser returns to support African grandmothers

The 2019 Stride to Turn the Tide walk is June 1

Kelowna thrill-seeker returns to rally racing

Mark Jennings-Bates is back behind the wheel at Rocky Mountain Rally this weekend

Improve your life and theirs, adopt a cat from the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA holds an adult cat adoption promotion

Black bear spotted near Salmon Arm elementary school

The bear was sighted at around 4 p.m. after school was out

Most Read